A Sonic Cosmic Journey: Terra Fractal

Why do you listen to music? It is a fair question, and one that perhaps we don’t actively think about very much. For example, my wife loves live music, but chooses to listen to audio books most of the time when she is driving or at the office. I on the other hand listen to music just about non stop. Why? It goes beyond genre. It goes deeper. It goes to character and core motivation. Think about it. Do you listen to escape, to numb your mind into a familiar tune and thus not have to think about anything? Do you listen to control your thoughts and emotions, like therapy? Do you listen to something because it has a beat and you can dance to it? Is dancing a rational pastime? Or an emotional one?

Personally, I find that music helps to dictate and channel my emotions and creativity. I use it to inform characters, to set tone and setting. I never use music as an escape. In fact, often times listening to music takes me right down the wormhole of hyper analysis, which is really everything but an escape. In that way, lyrics can sometimes be too much of a distraction, as my mind wants to focus on them rather than my own words, so at those times music without lyrics is helpful.

Terra Fractal

This brings up another example. At the beginning of December for her birthday, my wife went to visit her sister and brother-in-law, Luke, in Portland. Luke works in local music, in some capacity, and on her return I asked my wife what music he was discovering up there. Last time my wife went up there she came back all excited by a band called Addverse Effects. They are pretty awesome btw. But this time her answer surprised me. “They don’t listen to much rock anymore. They listen to this sonic, atmospheric music. It’s almost New Age, but it isn’t. It is like soundtracks, but not. And they listen to it constantly.” She wasn’t annoyed by the music at all, just surprised that it kind of blended and took over the atmosphere of their apartment. “You couldn’t necessarily differentiate between songs, or bands, it was like a cosmic muzak.”

“You should have them listen to Terra Fractal“, I answered, “or Tapestrees or Scattered Melodies. I bet they would like them.” Fact is, there are several bands here in Phoenix that all kind of fit that bill. A blending and fusion of classical music, classical instruments, synthesizers and sometimes lyrics. Hyperbella and House of Stairs also are reminiscent of that vibe. Japhy’s Descent also mixes their albums up between conventional songs with hooks and lyrics, and atmospheric sonic instrumentals that sore from the speakers. Joe Peifer, front-man of Tapestees, writes:

“Dynamics and versatility are incredibly important. I’ve had shows where we tried keeping the same momentum in our music, but it doesn’t have the same effect on the audience as having those highs and lows like a rollercoaster as Jarrod Compton mentioned. I’ve also found that tastefully inserting a familiar melody in your set is also a good way to engage the audience, especially if they’re not used to attending instrumental shows.”

Ghost Songs Book Release at Last Exit Live Photo Credit: Sam Leale

As Terra Fractal mentions in their Story:

“Their debut album, Does Your Mind Travel, is ripe with syncopation, yet it still has plenty of ear catching melodies set alongside ambient and transcendent musical interludes. It creates a middle ground for composition and improvisation to live together in harmony.”

Terra Fractal has three great shows coming at you in the next few weeks! Be sure to mark them on your calendars!

Arizona Rock n Roll Rogues Gallery Spotlight:

Terra Fractal

The idea of these eight questions is to give just a bit of a look into the featured band. Some are completely just for fun!

1. What three local bands in town are people not paying enough attention to besides yours?

Terra Fractal: The Psychedelephants, New River Slim, Ancient Egypt

2. Where do you shop for stage clothes?

Humdinger Festival Ghost Writer Photo

Terra Fractal: Our styles vary, we are all so different. Some times we shop at Nordstrom and the others we hit the thrift stores.

3. Have you ever met Bubba? Explain.

Well… my daughter has the picture referenced below, so here Bubba is with Kim Dangerous of The Bellwethers…. because that is not close at all.

Richie Sullivan: I think Ryan (Cronin) and I met him at Mesa Amphitheater after we played the humdinger festival. I believe that he had us take a picture with his daughter? I’m not sure it was super hot that day.

4. What other bands do you play in around town, if any?

Richie Sullivan: I don’t, Ryan used to play with Sydney Spraque for a bit there. Daniel Robinson, our drummer plays with The Conveyors and Blues Man Mike. Jamison Mcqueen is starting to drum with The Viol8tors this spring.

Humdinger Festival Ghost Writer Photo

5. What is your go to cover song?

Lately we’ve been covering Us and Them by Pink Floyd and I Belong To You by Lenny Kravitz. Both seem to be a hit with the crowd but we’re looking to switch it up and always open to suggestions

6. Besides being musicians, do you have day jobs, and if so what do you do?

Daniel and Ryan are both in sales. Tyler Flowers, our sax player teaches music and Richie is a sommelier at a resort in paradise valley.

7. Ninja or Samurai?

Terra Fractal: We’re a band divided for this one. Some of us chose the ninja life and the others made the right choice and are definitely samurais. I guess we will have to meet in the streets to settle this band feud!

8. As a band what are three of your favorite venues that you play around town?

Terra Fractal: Favorite venues?!? That’s difficult. As far as actual venues, The Rebel Lounge, Crescent Ballroom and Last Exit Live. But when we are really in our element is at my (Richie Sullivan’s) house throwing an party after Casey’s closes drinking some white claws.

Next Up: Ali A & the Agency

Keep the Greasy Side Down, my Friends !

Present Post-Punk: Funerelles

Much like poetry and literature, music is best interpreted as an expression of its time. All art ends up being categorized this way: usually in periods. Impressionistic, Romantic, Enlightenment, Baroque, Post- Modern. One of the things I enjoyed the most about teaching English, was weaving into the history that produced it, and then connecting that history to why it still had modern relevance.

If you followed my social media posts this last couple of weeks, it is obvious that Post Punk music had a major effect on me growing up. It was my go to for a form of artistic expression that mirrored what I was feeling. But it would take years to dig deep enough to finally kind of get to the heart of the real question: why? What was it about those albums, beyond feeling like a loner, an outcast, a misfit – you know the common why are kids Goth stereotypes, that spoke to me? Twenty plus years later, with the invention of YouTube, I finally got the best answer that I think has ever been concisely put together, and it took me right back into the basis of how I taught poetry.

The first 10 minutes of this will put this article into context

The first three minutes describe a scene. A dark, industrialized jungle of concrete. At 3:00 Bernard Sumner (Joy Division/ New Order) says, “You were always looking for beauty cause it was such an ugly place. I mean I don’t think I even saw a tree until I was about nine. I was surrounded by factories…” at at this moment you see old video footage of children playing in the streets and on broken down vehicles as their local playground. Bleak. Gray. Stephen Morris (Joy Division/ New Order) continues describing seeing rows of houses with no porches. Rows of them, opening onto the street, and then going back to that neighborhood and seeing nothing but piles of rubble and then, new concrete and steel construction everywhere. “By the time you were in your teens, it was just this fortress, quite futuristic actually.” Sounds like Tempe. But what this first three minutes of the film does is sets up the environment which creates art, or rather, the artist. And then it shows what their art is reacting to.

When the documentary brings in Peter Hook (Joy Division/ New Order/ Monocco/ The Light) at about 4:45, he describes the feeling that if you were from Suffolk, you never really considered yourself as going anywhere in the world. You were just kinda wasting your time, until it was your turn to enter the factory. On a personal note, this is very similar growing up in an Arizona mining town. In San Manuel, where I grew up, there were days that smelter smoke kept us inside for PE and recess. And trying to be a kid who was aiming at college, in a world where most of your peers just planned on going straight to the mine after graduation, was a lonely place. Interesting.

But for me… the quote that brings everything home, the quote that really, finally, and definitively, defines the Post-Punk movement is at 19:40. “Punk enabled you to say Fuck You, but somehow it couldn’t go any further; it was just a single, venomous, two syllable phrase of anger. Which was necessary to reignite rock n roll, but sooner or later someone was going to want to say more than Fuck You; someone was going to want to say I’m Fucked. And it was Joy Division who were the first band to do that.”

Has that sense of our current place in the world ended? Climate. Economy. Global Trust. Never ending Wars. Corporate Greed. Private Prisons. Intellectual Disparity. Our world is in upheaval in ways that were only really discussed hitherto-fore now in science fiction novels. When a person looks at that environment, and the art it produces as a reflection, I would submit that Post Punk… has never ended. Rather, it has intensified… but somehow, as is evident in Paper Foxes… it is still looking for something beautiful.

It turns out, Gerald Schoenherr (Funerelles) would agree:

While Punk Rock was about rebellion, it still used the musical vocabulary of rock and roll (power chords & blues scales). British bands like Joy Division, the Cure, Gang of Four, Bauhaus, etc took that rebellion a step farther by abandoning American styles of guitar playing and song structure. There was also a bit more despair in lyrical content. Perhaps because of the economic conditions in the UK and perhaps because the kids who were punks a few years earlier had matured into adulthood and had come to the realization of what it’s like to be on your own in a harsh world. Even as the 80s progressed and squeaky clean acts like Wham! began to dominate the airwaves, the darker stuff was still tucked away in the corner to be rediscovered by another generation. When things get tough and people (especially young people) look for art and music that they can relate to, Post Punk is there. The internet has made finding this music even easier. In the 80s no one played guitar like Robert Smith and no one played bass like Peter Hook. They invented new vocabularies. Something that young people today might not appreciate. Yet, their playing still resonates. It’s immediate and visceral.

Arizona Rock n Roll Rogues Gallery Spotlight: Funerelles

The idea of these eight questions is to give just a bit of a look into the featured band. Some are completely just for fun!

1. What three local bands in town are people not paying enough attention to besides yours?

Gerald Schoenherr (Funerelles): I feel like this is a bit of a minefield. Do I talk about my friends bands just to try to promote them? What if I forget to mention someone?

2. Where do you shop for stage clothes?

Gerald: My stage clothes are just a specific outfit of my normal wardrobe. A lot of which comes from Antique Sugar. But, I shop for vintage clothes all over. I’ve found some great things in Bisbee, as well as (of course) L.A.

3. Have you ever met Bubba? Explain.

Gerald: I can’t explain.

This answer… just alone… is hilarious. LOL

4. What other bands do you play in around town, if any?

5. What is your go-to cover song?

Gerald: “Funnel of Love” by Wanda Jackson as covered by SQURL

6. Besides being musicians, do you have day jobs, and if so what do you do?

Gerald: I teach audio engineering at the Conservatory of Recording Arts and Science full time.

7. Ninja or Samurai?

Gerald: Nina Simone

at The Lost Leaf Jan 2020

8. As a band what are three of your favorite venues that you play around town?

Next Up: Terra Fractal !

Keep the Greasy Side Down, my Friends.

Awake in the Night in The Lonesome Wilderness

Richard Shelton is the most accomplished poet and writer that I know and call friend. He is an 86 year old cracker jack, a fire cracker of a desert dweller, and he has taught me a great deal about my craft. The man is a legend of this wonderful state for many reasons: whether it be his long tenure at the University of Arizona, his (and his wife’s) help in the development of the University of Arizona Poetry Center, his lifelong work in the prison system developing creative writing programs, his beautiful poetry, or his witty prose. But for me, and our purposes here, it is sufficient to say that the man loves the Sonoran Desert.

The Poet & The Ghost Writer in Mexico

Richard used to take his poetry classes out into the desert on excursions, hikes of creative discovery, journeys meant to remove students from their normal surroundings and allow them to immerse themselves in the surreal of the Sonoran Muse. His stories of this time very much inspired my story “The Old Gods & the New” in Ghost Songs. When I was writing that story, I spent a lot of time contemplating Richard’s poem New Road, which is about a road being carved through the saguaros. (Richard lives near the Sonoran Desert Museum and Saguaro National Monument in Tucson.) I bring this story up, and my friend, the poet, to ask you this: when you wonder in that Desert Solitude, in those Vast Expanses, over those rough stones, through those sandy arroyos and out into the Lonesome Wilderness of Arizona…. what songs does she sing?”

Ghost Writer Photo

Joe Golfen sent me the new The Lonesome Wilderness record, Awake in the Night, and I have been listening to it for days. Have you heard of The Lonesome Wilderness? I consider myself pretty in-the-know of music in this town, and, well, friends, I am discovering new bands every single day. The talent in Arizona is DEEP! Several months ago, I was watching The Breakup Society play at Last Exit Live, and it turned out to be Joe’s last show playing with the band. It was that night that I first heard of The Lonesome Wilderness. Now, I am devouring their music.


Awake in the Night feels like the soundtrack to The Man With No Name spaghetti westerns if The Beatles hung out with a few Arizona Highwaymen in the desert and wrote it.

Story time. Years ago, I gave a friend a mix CD of Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers and The Refreshments. He liked it, saying, “They are the perfect get in the car and drive around Arizona band!” And it makes sense. Roger wrote Sonoran Hope and Madness after hiking into the Lonesome Wilderness. Into the desert sun, contemplating the Monkey Wrenches and scorpion stings. And he wrote, what in my opinion, is the definitive masterpiece of Arizona Rock. I have often thought, as Roger has been my role model for a very long time, that I wanted to do for fiction in my home state what Roger did for music. Roger, like Richard Shelton, is a Sonoran poet, and we share that hope and madness.

What is The Lonesome Wilderness? Is it the voice of those wilds? Is it the things they say to us, when we are silent, and listen? Are these the songs of that loneliness? Is the loneliness sad? Or, satisfactorily alone? Or, are these the songs that that Lonesome Wilderness gifts to us, that take root in our hearts, and lungs, and sinews as we breathe in those high mountain airs or those hot bursts of desert severity – and burst forth as songs and poems upon reflection. If Richard Shelton’s New Road, was put to music, would it be a Lonesome Wilderness song?

These are my thoughts on just the band name. And all of these questions, could be affirmations upon listening to the record, Awake in the Night.

So, what does my first impression mean? If you were to make a mix CD, with Burnin’ Grass and The Garden (decker.) Sonoran Hope and Madness and Ashes of San Miguel (Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers) Nada and Don’t Wanna Know (The Refreshments) Norwegian Wood and Nowhere Man (The Beatles) Witchdoctor and Bad Desert Sun (Sidewinders/ Sand Rubies) and Awake in the Night, Rolling Rock, Black Smoke Clouds, and Desert Sun (The Lonesome Wilderness) you would have a very cool soundtrack to The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly. And it would be amazing. (BTW, after Awake in the Night releases, I will include this Playlist Here.)

And you wanna know what….. FRIDAY NIGHT you can see decker. play with THE LONESOME WILDERNESS when they debut Awake in the Night at Valley Bar, Phoenix! Get your tickets HERE !!!!

The Ghost Writer Review

Webs: Many of the songs on this record gave me this fun little mental image of my friend Richard Shelton walking like Tom Bombadill trough the cholla and mesquite and saguaros strumming a guitar and putting melodies to his poetry. The Lonesome Wilderness very much make me think about their band name, and what it means. “Even though the days go by it’s not the ticking clocks that make you die, so come on back, come on back to me again.” Lonely love song? Maybe. A poet singing to a fallen God of the Desert? Maybe. I think more than any other band name, at least recently, The Lonesome Wilderness makes me THINK… and I love that.

(So) Easy: The first released single of this album; what do you think? For me… you will always get me with the poetry. I am a Wordsmith my friends, and I love the music, do not get me wrong, but the way to my heart is through my mind with your words. “It’s so easy just to stay inside your head, it will get ugly if you let it in instead.” Word.

Awake in the Night: Beautiful. I love the voice of the guitar in this one, introducing me into the poem….. “Yesterday I waited too long, I held onto that feeling until the feeling was gone, and I have to say I was wrong, so wrong to let the light fade before changing the song…” A lot of the songs on this record could be sad, if you really listened to them, but they do not sound sad. It is like the Desert. It is harsh. It is deadly. It is unforgiving. And it is absolutely breathtaking. There is nothing sad about the lonesome time I spend in that wilderness.

Rolling Rock: Joe Golfen and I got talking about inspirations when The Lonesome Wilderness released a playlist of songs that inspired and fueled and mused into their writing of this record. I love that. I wrote an entire book inspired by the songs that my friends wrote. It is not a matter of who I write like, who they sound like, or where our creative impulses come from. It is about each of us as human beings being a rolling rock that has no idea where we are going, or how it is going to be, or who we are going to see….. we just pick up little bits and they make us. We devour those little bits, and dissect them, and retain the pieces that mattered….. and that becomes our voice.

Awake in the Night Mood Board – A Playlist by Joe Golfen

Black Smoke Clouds: This is the song that screams Rubber Soul and Revolver to me. This is the song that makes me say The Beatles hung out in the Desert with my friends. What a cool, 60s, contained-psychotic piece of coolness!

Thought on the Stairs: This song is amazingly beautiful. The music is understated, and the lyric is Lonesome in the empty city streets and the sound of the winter is setting in and we are alone again…. and its not the sirens or the horns that keep us awake at night…. and this song makes us realize that Lonesome Wilderness….. could be anywhere. Even our own hearts.

Desert Sun: Sonoran Hope & Madness. Nuff Said.

Get to this show my friends. Buy this record.

Find your Wilderness….. and listen to her voice…. in the Lonesome Calm

And Keep the Greasy Side Down.

A Phoenix Christmas Carol: a Conversation with Gabe Kubanda

It was the Sunday before New Year’s and I was driving into Tempe for a meeting. It could very well be the meeting that would define my 2020. I was nervous, and excited. And I was being haunted by ghosts.

Marc Norman 2020

The Ghosts of Phoenix Past: Months ago, sitting on the back patio of Tempe Tavern as we are often likely to do, Marc Norman and I were talking about his upcoming candidacy, talking points, and, or course, music. At some point in the conversation, between talking about the insane wealth of talent in Phoenix and the state of the music industry, Marc lamented, “you know, this is the worst time ever to be a musician.” To which I responded, “Yeah, a writer too.” Now, not to be to melancholic, but it certainly does seem to be true. Streaming has turned what record and book labels did for their artists completely upside down, artists stay independent longer than ever (or somehow get magically discovered in youth and explode), and the ability to make money at a live event venue is compromised by the cost it takes to get to and prepare for said event. It is a complicated time. We got talking about Fervor Records, and their ability to land a local song on a Netflix show (like they did for Gentlemen After Dark down in Tucson by getting Open Door on Stranger Things and more recently with “I’m Concerned” by Pistoleros on the Hulu show Reprisal). “Seems like with the addition of streaming in television media, and the wealth of new original programming, that there are new markets all the time,” I was saying. “Sure”, Marc answered, “but that market used to be open, something as an artist you could pursue yourself, like when Ghetto Cowgirl got Excuses for Losers and Rock Pig in that Charlie Sheen movie.” I did some digging and turns out, this conversation had come up before, with the East Valley Tribune, in 2005. Way before streaming as we know it today. Turns out Marc was onto something.

“The major labels used to charge up the ass to use their songs,” Norman says. “So I got Ghetto Cowgirl songs in there, but now the majors are practically giving their stuff away, so you really have to catch a show on the way up. I don’t think I could get Ghetto Cowgirl into One Tree Hill now – it’s too popular.”

East Valley Tribune 2005

And now local bands like Fairy Bones join outside marketing firms, like Media Horse, that are not record labels, just to try to place their songs. And those middle men now take the profits that have been providing Marc Norman royalties for years. Enter Fervor Records.

Enter the second haunting voice. My wife went up to Portland at the beginning of December, to visit her sister, Sarah who works as a project manager, and Luke, her brother-in-law who works in music. And doesn’t have a day job. Let me say that into your good ear. My brother-in-law works in the music industry, in 2020, and does not have a day job. I asked my wife about it what she got home, and she answered relatively simply, “Luke has figured out a way to monetize his skill set.” I have not been able to get that sentence out of my mind all month. I take pictures. I write about music. I get recognized by local media. Things are good. Right? I work at what I love for free, but I work at Costco. It is the number 1 company in the country. I should be thrilled to stock the boxes on the gray concrete floors. This is as good as it gets!

The Ghost of Phoenix Present: Gabe Kubanda and I were sitting in the lounge area at Valley Bar waiting for The Runner Up and Celebration Guns to open things up for Paper Foxes. Gabe and I had been trying to connect for a bit, as things were getting ready to get very busy for the Phoenix singer. Gabe not only writes and sings his own songs, but he also has two side projects, the Epic Proportions Tour and EduMusication. As is often the case with my conversations, I was not exactly sure where this interview was headed, but I had been thinking about “monetizing my skill set” all month, and Gabe was certainly someone who had figured out how to work for himself in the industry that he loved. Many times, during these interviews, it is not as much about instructing my readers as much as it is about educating myself.

As I mentioned in the Humdinger series last spring, my step-daughter knew about Epic Proportions before I did. She had seen one of the events at Red Mountain High School. When she told me about it, she was really excited about bands coming to play her high school. At the time, I was not sure exactly what she was talking about, but when she recognized Gabe at Mesa Amphitheater, I realized that he was onto something.

“Speaking of the Humdinger”, I said, “You know, in my era that place would have been packed. Every under age kid in town would have been at that venue to see those shows. But, now, most of my daughter’s friends, in Mesa, didn’t even know about it. I see this as a major struggle within music. Every kid in the world is plugged in, but plugged in to what, is the question, and how do we tap into that? I see Epic Proportions as one of the music industry models that is trying to deal with that dilemma. I mean there are only so many all ages shows, right?”

The concept of Epic Proportions is to build fun live music shows, and then take those shows to where the youthful listeners are at. The tour itself is built along legs that cater to schools, both high schools and universities, that are looking to bring in live entertainment for their events. For example, Gabe was asked to provide entertainment for the United States Air Force Academy Graduation Tail Gate Party, so these shows are usually not in music venues. “The entire concept is to take the music to where the people already are at”, Gabe explains. “When we toured Europe last fall, we spent a whole week in northern England touring and presenting in area high schools, and at those shows we pulled in top student performers, who at the end of the week opened up for us at The Cavern Club in Liverpool.” Most of the time, a band tours with the tour for the duration of the tour, much as People Who Can Fly did with one of the last tours, and then Gabe and his team reach other to other local acts along the tour to fill in the spots on the roster.

Yeah…. that Cavern Club

Not only does this tour fill a need in terms of promoters and event organizers being able to find and provide entertainment for their event, but it also provides a service to local bands looking to grow and branch into new markets. “If you are just starting out, and wanting to branch out to other cities where perhaps your band knows very few people and hasn’t had much of an opportunity to build a fanbase, what are the ways to do it? You either need to open up for a bigger band, or perhaps trade some favors to get yourself a foothold.” The Epic Proportions Tour allows a band to go into a new market with a bit of a safety net and build up the fans in that particular location, or in the case of the England example, it uses the contacts it makes from EduMusication to pull local performers in to provide that local support to the rest of the tour.

Rock tours, as you can imagine, are not cheap. So, most of us are aware of the model. A band comes to town, stadium tickets are announced, and we all gouge our eyes out with the cost of those tickets. Things are expensive. Venues are expensive. Concert shirts, tickets, food and beverages. We are all used to the insane ways the venues and promoters try to get their money back. But here is this guy from Phoenix taking bands hardly anyone knows to Europe!

Is it really the worst time ever to be in music? Or is it simply no longer possible to define the music industry the same way? In Gabe’s case, Epic Proportions has figured out a model that brings funding for their art from outside normal circles. In other words, what if a tour is not funded by tickets, but is instead funded by Organizational Entertainment Budgets and Sponsorships? A venue is a place, that requires rent, and those has to sell its space. But if an ASU organization, or the Air Force Academy, or a high school dance sponsor has an entertainment budget on which to draw for these funds.

It really then should surprise no one, that Gabe Kubanda is presenting his EduMusication program at NAMM 2020 in Anaheim, CA. Nor that he is taking part in two panels: Smart Touring and Brand Partnerships. NAMM is the music industry standard in terms of its up and coming convention. It is like ComiCon…. for Gibson and Fender instead of DC and Marvel. In addition, Gabe will also join Harper & the Moths, Promise to My Self, and other local Phoenix acts in performing at various locations throughout the convention.

Perhaps…. it is the most exciting time ever to try to figure out a way to make a living in the arts, it is just that every model of the last century that may have once worked is in the process of being completely redefined. Or perhaps the world has gotten to a place where there is simply no reason left NOT to roll the dice.

The Ghost of Phoenix Future: December 27th comes, and MPRNews drops an article by Dan Kraker called “Indie Booksellers Create Community to Survive the Age of Amazon.” The entire article is about the bottoming out of the Independent Booksellers in 2009, and now, days before the dawn of 2020, they are staging a comeback. How?

Kraker tells the story of the Dobrows, young idealistic lovers, readers, newly weds, who one day dreamed of owning a little bookstore. Then marriage, kids, jobs, and it wasn’t until after retiring from something that wasn’t their dream that the couple was able to revisit it. “One of our great fears was that bookstores would go away, so I feel almost a moral obligation to be in bookstores. There is growing resurgence of shopping and supporting local, and people don’t mind paying a little more when they know they are doing so. Bob Dobrow adds, “My wife has this saying which we repeat a lot, which is, nobody’s getting rich but the bills are getting paid”, he said laughing.

The Horror: What if the new American Dream is just getting by?

It was cold on the US 60 on that last Sunday of 2019. I was layered and leathered, and thinking of ghosts all the way into Tempe. “It is the worst time ever to go into the music business“. Epic Proportions touring Europe and Gabe Kabanda presenting at NAMM 2020. The 20th Century American Dream: if you work hard enough, you can be anything. The 21st Century Dream: Cross your fingers and hope to get by. But Bob Dobrow, in an article about indie books, answered the question. “Booksellers are deeply embedded in helping to define this notion of why the consumer should shop local.”

I parked my motorcycle and started stripping layers. My future partners were waiting in the neighborhood Native, where we were meeting to discuss, among other things…. starting a Phoenix based, music industry business, in 2020. And I realized the Ghosts of December had not been teaching a horror lesson after all. They had been cutting the chains that held me: the chains of fear, and supposed to, and think too much. The Ghosts of December had combined, and taught me that ….. perhaps…. in a changing world where it seems that more and more of us are just getting by…..

The secret is to not make it about ourselves. Not make it about our own needs. Not make it about our own desire to monetize our skill sets. The secret is to find a place in your community where your skills are needed. And plug into that community. And realize…. that if everybody is just getting by, you can get by doing something that you love and help other people or get by just as easily as doing something you despise and helping nobody.

In the end….. it is about creating the world you want to live in. A world filled with bookstores. Bistros. Mom and Pop shops. And music. And not caring if you ever get rich as long as the bills are paid…..

And you are still dreamin.

Keep the Greasy Side Down, Amigos


Ghost Writer has been my alter ego since the tragedy of early 2017. Life… changed. But in the almost three years since its inception…. no year has been more important to Ghost Writer Presents than 2019. Nostalgia has been a theme this year…. and incidentally is very much at the root of my new work offline.

Blushing Cactus Photography

Keep the Greasy Side Down – Year in Review

January :


Danny Zelisko Presents brings local music to Mesa Amphitheater with the Humdinger



The three month experiment of The Humdinger comes to an end, and although it was not well attended, it provided loads of Stories to Tell.


A bit of a slow month, and also the month that my Writer’s Group goes on retreat to Mexico. But, as Circus Mexicus entered its 20th year, interest was once again peaked in my retrospective review of all things Roger Clyne.


The Black Moods Rockin New Years Eve

True story. Kevin Michael Prier and Josh Kennedy walk into a local bar, and a guy recognizes them as Chalmer’s Green and says, “Man, you guys were great, I miss you!” And Josh says, “Um, well, we are both in bands and playing music…” and the dude had no idea. Perhaps… he should have read my Conversation with Kevin Michael Prier.



Tempe Son, David Rhodes and his band Big Finish release their debut CD to high acclaim.


A certain local writer writes his 4th book, this one inspired 100% by local music. What Exactly is Ghost Songs? and then releases that book at a widely well received live music concert at Last Exit Live.


October: Ghost Writer Radio begins a new project inspired by MTV’s 120 Minutes. The Phoenix version, 120 Hot Minutes, is a periodic Youtube Playlist, made to stream, that showcases local Arizona Music Videos.

November: This month, I went country with a three part series on local country music new releases. The second of the series, reviewing Jim Bachmann & the Day Drinkers Arizona Burrito was quite popular.

Also in November, I went down to Bisbee Book’s & Music for an Artist Spotlight and signed some books.

Photo Credit Elaine Thomas Campbell

December: Local giants Pistoleros and Ghetto Cowgirl united in support of Ryan King’s new bands, Sliced Limes Debut CD.

Keep The Greasy Side Down – 2019 TOP 10

So…. who reads this stuff? This guy writes articles, he develops his fans and followers, bands and interviewees share articles, and that reaches out to their fans….. That is exactly how this online magazine is supposed to work! This is how I try to propel the Arizona Arts Community…. forward, out there into the ether…. onto the inter webs….

Where do these articles go, TOP 10.
  1. The United States
  2. Germany
  3. The United Kingdom
  4. Canada
  5. Netherlands
  6. Ireland
  7. Australia
  8. India
  9. France
  10. China

So…. I release about 2 -3 articles a month. They can be interviews, travel loges, concert reviews, album reviews, or just pontifications from a rambling mind. But the latter is rare…. or continually infused. Take your pick. The following list is by READS….. some of these were not written this year, they just still get SHARED, and VIEWED, and READ. #Hmmmmm So, this year, here are my TOP TEN VIEWED ARTICLES. Notice the staying power in 5, 6 and 7.

  1. The Return of Bear Ghost
  2. The Humdinger is a Win for Local Music in Mesa, Arizona
  3. Welcome to the Underground, Arizona! (The Conversation with Kevin Michael Prier of The Real Fakes.)
  4. The Rise of the Arizona New School: Part 2 {Featuring Big Finish)
  5. The Illusion of a Meaningless Exchange (The Brent Babb of Dead Hot Workshop Interview)
    • Interesting Note. This article was released in the Winter of 2018. Both Dead Hot Workshop and Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers (along with Pistoleros) were inducted into the Arizona Arts & Entertainment Hall of Fame this year, and interest in them has done nothing but increase.
  6. A Quarter Century a Peacemaker (The Retrospective Review of all things Roger Clyne.
    • Interesting Note. This article was written in 2017. It was my very first album review. It is still my all time #1 article.
  7. There & Back Again: In the Studio with The Black Moods
    • Interesting Note. This article was written in the Fall of 2018. It is still at all time TOP 3 article.
  8. I’ll Take My Limes, Sliced (The Review of Sliced Limes debut EP)
    • Interesting Note. This article has been out for less than 2 weeks.
  9. Down the Rabbit Hole with The Bellwethers
  10. Discovering Humdinger 2 with Sneaky Big

Ghost Writer Radio – Church of Rock Top 20

The idea of #ChurchofRock is to give you an easy to share, five song playlist that you can listen to on the way to work or school. It is a super easy way to not only promote yourself, but pay it forward to four other local acts at the same time. Then…. at the end of the year…. I draw from that and give you this coolness.

Ghost Writer Radio: Best of Church of Rock 2019

Follow my Spotify folks….. Ghost Writer Radio is cool.

Featuring: Ali A & the Agency, Barefoot, The Bayou Bandits, The Bellwethers, Birds and Arrows, Big Finish, The Black Moods, decker., Fairy Bones, Japhy’s Descent, Joe Pena, Moons, Birds & Monsters, New Chums, Paper Foxes, The Real Fakes, The Runner Up, Sara Robinson Band, Sliced Limes, Strange Young Things, and We Are Hologram.

Ghost Writer December Concert Calendar

So….. do I have your attention???? Here are your DO NOT MISS SHOWS THRU NEW YEAR’S EVE…. Arizona Indie, Baby….. #RockLocal

  • Friday December 13
    • James and Paige’s BIRTHDAY BASH at The Yucca Taproom
    • Nerdvana (Tribute to Nirvana) at Chopper Johns
  • Saturday December 14
    • Baby It’s Bear Ghost Outside at Last Exit Live
      • Bear Ghost, Celebration Guns, Audrey Heartburn and Damn the Weather
    • Decker the Halls at Valley Bar
      • decker., The Stakes, Ali A & the Agency and Hi-Dreams DJ Collective
        • ** This show will be fantastic, music fans. The Stakes blew my mind at Apache Lake Music Festival, and the new album coming in 2020 from Ali A & the Agency is one of my most highly anticipated of the year. Do Not Miss This SHOW. You all know decker. brings it…. but damn. DO NOT.
  • Sunday December 15
  • Tuesday December 17
  • Wednesday December 18
    • Beedlenut’s Nut’s Nutcracker Extravaganza at The Rebel Lounge
      • The Bittersweet Way, Gnarwhal Jrz, 2000 Foot Turtle and Lawnchair
  • Thursday December 19
  • Friday December 20
    • Super Single Release Party
      • Doug Preston & the Soul Searchers, Shawn Johnson & Foundation, The Real Fakes, and Parlor Birds
  • Friday December 20
  • Saturday December 21
    • Ugly Sweater Party with Something Like Seduction, Scattered Melodies, Clint Stevens and Haley Green
    • Toys for Tots Christmas Party by Sunset Voodoo at Macayos Depot Cantina
  • Friday December 27
  • Tuesday December 31

I would be really honored if you checked out my books. My articles are cool…. but folks…. I am a creative soul too.

Ghost Writer Press.


What to Expect in 2020

The third book in my Arizona Netherworld Series will take a while. My project this year is to begin to take a scholarly look at Non-Fiction. Growing as a business is a priority this year, and part of that is looking into the complexities of selling individual essays for publication, but retaining the rights to a collection. But getting my work out there, across a wider platform, is essential for Ghost Writer Press to attain the next level. That will start with working with my University of Arizona Writer’s Group about honing my memoir skills.

Several bands have really gotten my attention this year, and as you have seen by following Keep the Greasy Side Down Online Magazine, I usually hone in on several artists to interview and get to know as I work on the articles of the current year. In addition, I very much keep my ear to the ground of who has new material in the works. So, in 2020 expect to get to know Birds + Arrows, The Psychedelephants, The Stakes, Black Caesar, Joe Pena / Greyhound Soul, Breakup Society, Doug Preston & the Soul Searchers and Ali A & the Agency – for starters. I am also looking forward to doing a Phoenix Hip Hop Scene Expose with Mr. UU of Paper Foxes.

Ghost Writer Radio will continue to expand along its three main branches. New music is added to the main Playlist on Spotify as fast as I can keep up. From this pool, I create a weekly Church of Rock five track playlist, which shares on Sundays. At the end of the year, from these weekly lists – I create the Best of the Year Top 20.

In addition to Church of Rock, I am really having fun with 120 Hot Minutes – which is an all Arizona Indie Video series inspired by the old school 120 Minutes on MTV. I have released the first edition, I will dropping #120HotMinutes 2 on New Year’s.

As a side project, I am also looking at rebuilding The Attempt and recording the soundtrack to ManInfest Destiny, as it was originally intended. This is a very lofty goal, but one that I will be pursuing this year as a Ghost Writer Presents: Production Project.

You really outta FOLLOW THIS BLOG.


Keep the Greasy Side Down, my Friends.